While fantasy basketball draft season has been going for a few weeks now, allow me the courtesy of totally wigging out over the next few weeks’ worth of coverage we’ve got in store for you.
First, if you haven’t been able to check out the draft guide get on over to our preview page where you can see a treasure chest’s worth of projections, rankings, strategy articles and a snazzy new interface.
We’ve gone out of our way to beef it up this year, and with new technologies that allow us to double and triple our efforts you’ll notice that the projections are tighter and we’ve been able to really zero in on what’s important to owners.
We’ll also be giving our premium subscribers early access to a wider variety of articles, including the labor of lunacy I run out there appropriately dubbed The Bruski 150.
No really, if last year my fiancé was looking at me like I was Leonardo DiCaprio in the Aviator circa the pee-jar scene, this year she just doesn’t talk to me anymore. I’ve spent the last six weeks or so holed up in my new war room, which I was able to outfit with seven display screens, three CPUs and a Red Bull dispenser.
No word on whether or not she still wants to marry me, but if I can take home another big money title she’ll love me in the morning.
Today we’ll start the first in a series of articles laying the groundwork for the Bruski 150, and that of course are the minute projections in a division-by-division format. Look for the 150 to be released in the draft guide in the next week or so. Part of my process is getting just the right amount of preseason information to close the loop on a variety of open questions from the offseason, and for you guys most of you aren’t drafting just yet and I like to keep the information from getting disseminated too quickly.
I want you guys to have the head start – not everybody else.
If you have specific questions you want answered in the meantime, you can click here to follow me on Twitter.
So without further ado, let’s start taking steps to another championship.
SOUTHEAST DIVISION MINUTE PROJECTIONS
*Rosters clipped to remove irrelevant fantasy plays
*A zero denotes a rotation slot not necessarily guaranteed
Jeff Teague (37-40) / Dennis Schroeder (19-24)
Kyle Korver (28-32) / John Jenkins (14-20) / Lou Williams (knee, 24-28)
DeMarre Carroll (27-33) / James Johnson (0, 10-25)
Paul Millsap (35-38) / Mike Scott (16-22) / Gustavo Ayon (0, 11-16)
Al Horford (35-38) / Elton Brand (15-20) / Pero Antic (0, 5-10)
The Hawks have one of the more fantasy friendly rosters in the NBA, with clear-cut roles for starters and a lack of depth to go around. With John Jenkins (back) having a hard time getting back on the floor and Lou Williams (knee) out indefinitely, look for Jeff Teague to get all he can eat at the point guard position.
I’d heap some more minutes on Kyle Korver if he hadn’t played less than 26.3 mpg in every season since 2007-08 before logging 30.5 mpg last season. Likewise, even if Paul Millsap were to slide over to small forward for a handful of minutes, DeMarre Carroll can play both wing positions and the Hawks will need every minute he can give them. James Johnson appeared to be overweight last season and is fighting for his NBA life on a non-guaranteed camp deal, and regardless he won’t be a threat to Carroll’s minutes. Perhaps most intriguing is whether or not Dennis Schroeder can capitalize on the playing time he’ll be forced into early. There’s not enough to hold onto for fantasy purposes just yet, but he’s one injury away from a big time role.
In the frontcourt Millsap and Horford will both be asked to log heavy minutes with decent, but flawed options behind them in Elton Brand and Gustavo Ayon, who begin the season as injury risks and don’t have the game to threaten the starter’s minutes. Mike Scott has been earning rave reviews so far in camp and that’s probably good enough to earn him solid backup minutes. In a deeper league you may want to keep tabs on his progress throughout the season.
Kemba Walker (34-37) / Ramon Sessions (19-25) / Jannero Pargo (0, 5-15)
Gerald Henderson (34-37) / Ben Gordon (18-22)
Michael Kidd-Gilchrist (24-29) / Jeff Taylor (19-24)
Cody Zeller (26-32) / Josh McRoberts (20-25) / Anthony Tolliver (0, 5-10)
Al Jefferson (28-32) / Bismack Biyombo (16-21)
If not for the presence of solid backup point guard Ramon Sessions, the minute projection for Walker would look a lot better. Still, look for Kemba to build off of a successful year even if Big Al tries to suck the air out of the ball. Henderson is the other bankable fantasy asset, and similarly to the Walker/Sessions arrangement, Gordon is there to support and not to compete.
That said, there has been a lot of talk by Bobcats players and coaches that has included Gordon’s name when rattling off the list of key contributors for the year. Perhaps it’s a veteran courtesy, but with Michael Kidd-Gilchrist still stuck in the ‘potential’ stage I could be making a late draft season adjustment upward on Gordon. Whether or not the extra 2-4 minutes would matter in your format is a whole other matter.
I’ve slowly started to hand minutes from McRoberts over to Zeller as the former has dealt with a toe injury, giving management an easy excuse to throw the rookie into the fire provided that he is ready. So far that appears to be the case.
You can consider me well off the Big Al bandwagon, which puts me in the minority around these parts. While I projected him lower than the Round 1 status most had him at last year (8-cat: 22, 9-cat: 19, actual 24/11), I didn’t expect to see such a precipitous decline in his athleticism. Jefferson still got his numbers as opponents were content to let him be the guy that beat them while his teammates all stood and watched. Now in Charlotte, the initial expectation has been that he would once again be the center of the Bobcats’ universe, but I’m not so sure that he can bring that level of effectiveness to the equation every night. And unlike in Utah where Ty Corbin was unwilling to take the mantle away from Jefferson, the new Bobcats regime may have bought him but they don’t have to undo years of Big Al being the No. 1. Both Walker and Henderson have established themselves and their games don’t lend themselves to spotting up with no hope of every receiving a kickout. As the mileage and injuries start to accumulate, look for the Bobcats to reduce Jefferson’s minutes while appeasing him with higher usage while he’s on the floor.
What I didn’t expect was to see a precipitous decline
Jameer Nelson (27-31) / E’Twaun Moore (0, 12-16) / Ronnie Price (0, 9-15)
Victor Oladipo (29-34) / Doron Lamb (0, 10-15)
Arron Afflalo (28-33) / Moe Harkless (24-29) / Hedo Turkoglu (0, 5-10)
Tobias Harris (30-35) / Andrew Nicholson (16-21) / Glen Davis (0, 22-26)
Nikola Vucevic (32-35) / Jason Maxiell (12-16) / Kyle O’Quinn (0, 5-10)
Nelson stands out like a sore thumb on this roster of younger player looking to make their way, but until he’s traded or hurt he’s going to be used as a safety blanket for Oladipo, who’s realer than real-deal Holyfield. I have the No. 2 overall pick at 29-34 mpg and I won’t hesitate to move that higher as the preseason rolls along. To handle the more pressing need to develop Oladipo than some of the other also-worthy youngster, everybody moves down a slot starting with Afflalo. Alf may very well be the starting shooting guard with Oladipo coming off the bench as the backup point, but the Magic will have each of the aforementioned three guys on the court a lot together in a three-guard lineup.
A lot of folks are worried about the impact Big Baby will have on Tobias when he returns from his foot injury. I just don’t see the Magic messing with Harris’ minutes much this year when he’s often the best player on the court for them. Besides, Davis is a holdover from another era with issues ranging from simple health (yes, he’s doing yoga and lost 20 pounds like everybody else this offseason) – to how he will handle being on the outside looking in. Last year Davis and Afflalo battled nightly for high scoring honors and while both were guilty of breaking the offensive rhythm during that little dance it was Davis that looked like the guy at the party who overstayed his welcome. Brought in during the waning days of the Dwightmare, I expect Davis to get minutes but I don’t see him hampering Harris, Harkless or even Nicholson if they’re getting it done on their ends.
Look for Harkless to struggle until Nelson and Davis are somehow rooted out of the rotation but once one or both of them are gone via trade or injury you can bump his nightly minutes into the 30-plus range. Whether or not that’s enough for a late round draft pick in your format is another question.
Mario Chalmers (27-31) / Norris Cole (19-23)
Dwyane Wade (30-34) / Ray Allen (23-26)
LeBron James (35-38) / Shane Battier (22-25) / Rashard Lewis (0, 8-14)
Chris Bosh (32-35) / Udonis Haslem (14-20) / Michael Beasley (0, 10-29)
Chris Andersen (17-23) / Greg Oden (0, 6-12) / Joel Anthony (0, 5-12)
Let’s open with the only thing I find mildly amusing in the Heat rotation, and that’s whether or not Beasley can save his career with a redeeming performance under the tutelage of James, Wade, Bosh, Spo and Riley. I also find it interesting that some folks have totally written Beasley off while the Heat are about as deep as an episode of The Bad Girls Club.
Here’s the deal and it’s pretty simple. Beyond the Big Three and Chalmers (now that’s a reality show that could have some comedic value) the Heat don’t have anybody that can carry any weight – and for good or bad the Beez has the talent to be that guy. Early reports are that he’s trying too hard right now, perhaps sensing that his NBA career is slipping through his fingers, but the reality of this situation is that nobody knows but Beasley whether or not he’s willing to buckle down and get at it.
If he does, I think he can be an every-day 30 mpg guy if he stays healthy, and if he doesn’t he could be cut at any time. Riles and Spo are about as good of a support system as one can imagine from a management perspective, but the real onus here is on the players to demand accountability.
Two championships will go a long way toward enhancing the street cred Wade and James bring to the table, but the fact is that neither player will go down in history for their leadership. This isn’t Michael Jordan harnessing Dennis Rodman, it’s the brat pack trying to get a guy that hasn’t proven anything to give a crap.
How much do they value his potential contributions as a guy that can take some weight off their shoulders? And if they think he can contribute in the right way, will they be willing or able to expend mental capital as setbacks invariably loom?
Whatever the answer may be, I’m not just writing the guy off because he has blown it thus far. The NBA is littered with too many redemption stories to take that tack.
John Wall (35-38) / Eric Maynor (0, 10-15) / Garrett Temple (0, 10-15)
Bradley Beal (31-35) / Martell Webster (24-28) / Glen Rice Jr. (0, 10-15)
Trevor Ariza (24-28) / Otto Porter Jr. (22-28)
Trevor Booker (24-30) / Jan Vesely (0, 14-24) / Al Harrington (14-22) / Chris Singleton (out, 14-24)
Nene Hilario (24-27) / Kevin Seraphin (26-31) / Emeka Okafor (out, 23-28)
The core duo of fantasy guys you want are locked and loaded into their roles, with Wall looking at a return to big minutes and Beal set to be let loose – but with some restriction playing alongside respectable veteran wings. Ariza and Webster have been solidified as late round values following Porter’s disappointing training camp, though I wouldn’t blame owners for aiming higher at that stage of drafts.
In what should be an intriguing race to gobble up available frontcourt minutes, the group of Seraphin, Booker and Vesely isn’t inspiring much excitement as potential replacements for Okafor, who is out indefinitely. Nene is also a bit of a mess after not playing basketball all summer due to his various injury concerns, and while it seems mandatory that one of those three steps up into that void all of them have their issues.
Seraphin lost all of his confidence last season and saw enough dips in key stat categories to question whether or not he can have any real value if given the minutes, even if he has the best outlook of the three. Booker’s knees are already an issue, otherwise he’d be right there with Seraphin standing in line for fantasy value. Vesely has looked the best of all of them so far in preseason, which is weird to type, and though he’s still not good at the game of basketball he’s coming around in terms of awareness – a key component for his rebounding, defense and ability to get easy buckets. The free throws will always be an issue and so will the scoring, but if he can make a name for himself in the dirty work categories he has a shot at winning some minutes. Both he and Booker are interchangeable in that starting power forward position.